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FOODIES

I Think the Egg Came First

 

March 10, 2017

Chef Amber Michelle

Fresh Duck Eggs

In the beginning there was an egg. I know, there were seeds too, and maybe even a chicken or an ostrich or something, but for sure, there was an egg. With Easter approaching, meatless Mondays, and just the sublime simplicity of the egg, I find myself inspired. With a variety of fresh farm eggs all over the county, it's an easy fulfillment and an inexpensive source of protein.

The true test of a good chef, has always been how proficiently she can cook an egg. They are delicate, but can take a beating. They cook at a lower temperature on their own but when coated, can be deep fat fried and still yield a perfectly thick warm yolk. It can be tricky and may not work out every time, but practice makes perfect. I'm still struggling with the perfect poached egg, but fried eggs in olive oil are my specialty.

Chicken eggs for omelets, duck eggs for soufflés, quail eggs for breakfast pizza. That's right, breakfast pizza. Up until 1992, I had only eaten quail eggs, usually just the raw yolk, on sushi. It's my favorite; scallop and smelt roe sushi with a quail egg yolk. Mmmm. But, I digress. At chef school, we made breakfast pizza for the incoming class every nine weeks. Small, 6"-8" crust, herbed cream cheese was the sauce, lox, and four quail eggs. In a very hot oven for 6 minutes. Incredible. My favorite breakfast for years. Now I make it with a tart crust.

Duck eggs are delicious and very rich. I love them for soufflé. I use four eggs, separate them and whip the whites, which are slightly less voluminous than chicken eggs. A small amount of white sauce made with onions and sheep's milk, and a good handful of shredded cheese and for me, two handfuls of chopped parsley are my additions for a subtley-poofed, tangy and fresh soufflé. I love a traditional soufflé dish but have also learned that I can heap this mixture (just make it a little dryer by making a tighter sauce), on top of a ham steak or a piece of elk. All in the oven at once, cooks up perfectly. Ok, not meatless, but elegant for breakfast or dinner.

Chef Amber Michelle

Subtley-Poofed Parm-crusted soufflé

You really don't even have to use white sauce. You can use roux, browned flour, or bread crumbs. It's just to provide structure. Go light but interesting on the cheese. Bleu, feta, extra sharp cheddar, or chevre are all fun choices; too much will weigh it down. If you like greens of any kind, just be mindful of the moisture (spinach is 98% water), and counteract it with starch. I don't usually salt eggs, until they're done, because it dries them out; however, I like salt in the white sauce and pepper. If you don't like black specks ruining your lemon-yellow eggscape, use white pepper. Want some earthy aroma? Brush lightly with truffle oil while still warm.

Omelets are a weekly meal for me. The possibilities are endless. Flat or fluffy, you can be as creative or as simple as you like with fillings. Don't be afraid of eggs or the yolks. They may have got a bad rap previously, but did you know half the protein of the egg is in the yolk? And yes, there's some fat and cholesterol. There is also lecithin for breaking down fat and cholesterol in the bloodstream and regulating kidney and gall bladder function. Choline is lecithin's roommate in the egg yolk, essential for good liver function, brain development, metabolism, and nerve health. Basically, the egg is perfect. How could it not be?

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